WASHINGTON (CNN) # Three United States Navy ships began to deploy Friday from their home base in Norfolk, Virginia, to pick up several thousand Marines in North Carolina, Navy officials said.
The ships received deployment orders Friday morning to pick up 7,000 Marines, according to Pentagon officials.
The Marines have been given orders to embark, which puts them on board the ships, but officials note it may be a day or two before they also receive their actual orders to deploy.
The three ships are:
• The USS Saipan, which is an Amphibious Assault Ship.
• The USS Ponce, an Amphibious Transport Dock ship.
• The USS Gunston Hall, a Dock Landing Ship.
Together, the group comprises what the military calls an Amphibious Ready Group., or ARG.
Such groups deploy with a large weapons supply, helicopters and Marines for overseas assignments.
The deployment for the ARG was originally to occur during the late summer, but now has been moved earlier to support U.S. military forces already in the Persian Gulf region, according to a U.S. Navy official.
The Marines # the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade are expected to receive their orders to deploy to the Gulf region within a day, according to a Marine official.